The future of the former Emerald Agricultural College site could be secured in early 2022, with Central Highlands Regional Council confirming its interest in acquiring part of the land.
In a general council meeting in October, councillors voted to provide formal advice to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) about council’s desire to purchase approximately 350 hectares of the site, located on the Capricorn Highway.
The area would include campus facilities, playing fields, the go-kart facility, the Ag-grow field day site and surplus land.
The college was closed in 2019 when operations of the state government’s Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC) ceased.
Since then, DAF have been the beneficiary of the former college assets, selling the ‘Berrigurra’ property at Blackwater and inventory such as livestock, machinery, vehicles and chattels over the past 12 months.
‘We have been part of a key stakeholder group involved in the transition process following the shutdown of the QATC and find ourselves in a position now to best realise the potential of the ag college site,’ said Mayor Kerry Hayes.
DAF recently announced their research facility at the site would be redeveloped into the Central Queensland Smart Cropping Centre and council currently tenants the main administration building with its dedicated Local Disaster Coordination Centre.
Together with the Central Highlands Development Corporation, council has exercised a due diligence process over the proposal to purchase part of the site. Once a valuation report and a preliminary survey plan are developed, council will finalise its deliberations.
‘There are a number of important and critical opportunities for the Central Highlands and the broader region on this site that are already known to us,’ Mayor Hayes said.
‘We also have other interests that are heavily focused on technology and innovation related to our key industries.’
Mayor Hayes said council will be the enablers for these important developments and the size of the site will allow council to achieve other important infrastructure in the future.
‘As long as we can afford it,’ he added.
‘This is a major investment, and we will need partners and their funding to create the opportunities for current and future generations of Central Highlanders.
‘It’s been a long process and our communities have progressed through their disappointment at closure and job losses to uncertainty over what’s happening so, if everything goes to plan, this will be a great outcome for all of us.’